Mayonnaise provides miracle treatment for endangered turtles caught in oil spill

Green sea turtles were affected by a devastating oil spill that has coated Israel’s coast with thick black tar

What’s the story?

Israel is currently battling one of the country’s ‘worst ecological disasters on record’, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

120 miles (195 kilometres) of the country’s Mediterranean coastline has been coated with sticky tar from a catastrophic oil spill, causing extensive damage to wildlife, including the endangered green sea turtle.

But employees at Israel’s National Sea Turtle Rescue Centre have found an unusual treatment to save the turtles.

According to Guy Ivgy, a medical assistant at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, north of Tel Aviv, feeding the turtles substances like mayonnaise helps to clean their systems and break down the tar, allowing it to flush out of their digestive tracts.

Thousands of volunteers and clean-up crews have mobilised to remove tar from Israel’s beaches, a task that is expected to take months. Several volunteers have been taken to hospital after they inhaled toxic fumes.

Where did the spill come from?

The Israeli government, which is investigating the cause of the spill, said it received no prior warning before an estimated 1,000 tonnes of tar started washing up on shore, although it is believed the incident took place in early February.

An Israeli court has barred media from publishing any details about the investigation, including the name of the suspected ship, although a journalists’ association is petitioning to have the order lifted and environmental activists have accused authorities of being under the influence of oil companies.

Why is this positive news for the planet

Well, it’s not really.

Oil spills are always devastating for marine birds and mammals, as well as fish and shellfish.

But while we’d rather oil spills were a thing of the past (along with oil drilling), this discovery of mayonnaise as a miracle treatment could help other turtles in the future.

AP NewsSky NewsIndependent
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Charli Ferrand Higgins

After a decade working for global and boutique PR and Marketing agencies in Sydney, with clients that included some of the biggest consumer brands in the world, Charli returned to her homeland of the UK in 2017 and decided the time had come to use her professional skills and experience for good. She has since split her time between supporting passionate, purpose-driven small and medium-sized businesses to grow through conscious content marketing, managing and editing the planet-positive content hub Earth Collective (, and hosting the podcast Easy Being Green? Lessons in sustainable business for SMEs.

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